What’s The Deal With Tampons?!
It would be unfair for me to only speak out against the bullshit I see happening in the US without acknowledging that Peru is nowhere near immune to it’s own set of downfalls. Today the topic is TAMPONS. I woke up a bit earlier this morning to walk to the closest supermarket, desperately in need of tampons. To start, it’s been over year since I’ve been off tampons. I find them toxic and uncomfortable. I’m a huge believer and lover of the menstrual cup (seriously ladies, TRY ONE) but a month ago I had an…accident…while sterilizing mine and had to toss it. My new one hasn’t come in yet. After a sweaty 20 minute walk I go into Tottus, one of the largest supermarket chains in Peru. I get to the pad/tampon aisle and see a wall of pads and literally 6 varieties of tampons. Shocked, I find an employee and ask him to please help me find tampons. He takes me to the same pathetic section of barely anything and I ask him to explain to me why there’s a wall filled with pads and 6 tampons, only two of which offer a plastic applicator. Of course he’s just an employee and has nothing to do with the ins and outs of the consumer need for tampons but I asked him to please take note that a customer has expressed to him her disgust at this display. The circled section below indicates the tampons vs. the rest of the wall- filled with pads.
As a woman it’s sad to even have to buy feminine products. For them to be taxed in many places as a “luxury” tax. Yes, stuffing chemically dyed products up my vagina in an effort to stop the blood from gushing out is very luxurious. Cool. They are wildly expensive and tampons are not good for us in general but sometimes you have no choice. You can opt for a cup which is great, but it’s not for everybody and even then there will be times where you need to buy tampons. In a country with a population of over 50% women I am very curious to know what is up with the shortage of tampons. I have been told this has to do with the medieval belief that stuffing something up your vagina is a sin, meanwhile women take to anal sex which is somehow morally justified. We are born with this biological system that causes us to bleed every single month and society does nothing but shame us as if the process itself isn’t bad enough already. Women everywhere are embarrassed to go to the store and buy their products and sometimes go through unnecessary lengths to hide what they’re buying (similar to condoms- but that’s another story).
I remember being a young girl who lived her life worried about what people thought. I would go to the store for pads or tampons and make sure to stack all my other products on top or around them so no one would see. The moment between the products being in my shopping cart and being placed by the register when it came time to pay often brought the anxiety of Oh shit, who’s watching me? As if anyone even cared. But we are brought up to be ashamed of this biological process. Literally the most natural part about being a woman we are shamed for. Now I am clearly more emboldened and actually go out of my way to have discussions about menstruation and am open because if not nothing will change. If these conversations make you uncomfortable I truly couldn’t care less. If these conversations make you uncomfortable you should probably do some inner reflection as to why that is.
The two things that appall me about the tampon situation here in Peru is not only the shortage but how expensive they are. I don’t know where they are importing these tampons from if that’s even the case but s/15 for an 8 pack (yes, this is the biggest box I could find in the sad excuse for a display at Tottus) was insulting. I could easily go through an 8 pack of tampons in a day and a half if I’m having a heavy flow days which means I could end up spending s/40-60 every month if we go by Tottus prices. A pack of 36 Tampax Pearls at Target in the US runs you about $7 bucks, making feminine products more affordable and accessible at least.
I write this not as a study on the societal implications of period shaming as I know the fact that Peru is a less developed country leads to the inaccessibility and price gauging but more as a way to let out my frustration. On my walk back home I cried. I felt deeply defeated and sad that this is many women’s realities. I think of the young girl who is laughed at when her pad falls out of her backpack at school or the homeless woman who has no way of even getting pads to begin with. It’s 2019 and I believe that this outdated and dangerous mindset is holding us back from evolving into the self loving human beings we need to be. We are comfortable with hating our bodies, being embarrassed and taunted for things that are biologically out of our control. It makes me sad beyond words.
For now I am using this as an outlet for my anger more than anything because I’m sure there’s economic backing to why there’s this issue in Peru as well as the reality that this is a predominantly Catholic country which brings even more guilt and shame into the picture. I plan on exploring this topic further because it’s something half the population deals with in silence and that is likely because we feel that silence is safer. We find comfort in the silence, we find peace in not challenging societal norms. I get it. I grew up feeling uncomfortable in my own body. I’ve spent a majority of my life letting my weight or the amount of fat I have on my stomach dictate how I feel every day. I still struggle with it - we all do. This idea that we need to be physically smaller to be worthy of taking up space and having our voices mean something is universal. I know I’ve shifted into body shaming now but it falls under the same category.
I get how hard it can be to let yourself be silenced, kept in a corner, and scared to go against what everyone else has accepted as normal. But after decades of putting myself in that same corner it’s my time to be loud and fight because this. is. bullshit.